Family life

Weddings: The upside of bringing your kids

Tracy Chappell is impressed with how well her daughters handled their first wedding.

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Tracy’s daughters Anna and Avery took part in their first wedding. Photo: Tracy Chappell

Follow along as Today’s Parent senior editor Tracy Chappell shares her refreshingly positive take on parenting her two young daughters. She’s been blogging her relatable experiences for our publication since 2005.

I love weddings. I always have. I know some people get invited to weddings and grumble about the cost and the travel and the sacrifice of a weekend. Not me. (If you invite me to your wedding, I’ll try really hard to come.) I love the romance and the little special touches and the jovial vibe of the whole day. And I love to dance with my husband, which hardly ever happens anymore. You go through a couple of years of your life where you seem to always be going to weddings — they become a big part of your social life — but then it all comes to a screeching halt. Everyone’s hooked up and you’re left having to get your wedding fix by watching Four Weddings and Funeral, which is a fantastic movie, but not nearly the same thing.

The best thing about weddings is how they bring people together. And that is so true for the wedding we went to this weekend — my big sister’s. She did a beautiful job of creating a day that was so personal and intimate and meaningful for everyone involved. And I got to spend time with my family over the course of a few days doing fun things like decorating the hall and getting our nails done and writing the speech and laughing like we do when we are together.

One other thing that was awesome was having our kids involved. I know kids in a wedding can be dicey and it’s sometimes more work than fun, but this weekend, it was a wonderful experience. Anna and Avery and their cousins were so excited to be a part of things, and at seven and five, they were old enough to enjoy the day and not require a ton of looking-after from me. They loved going with us to get their hair done, and they adored their dresses and flowers and fancy shoes. Avery, my notoriously camera-shy gal, even smiled for pictures AND speed-walked up the aisle by herself as one of the flower girls. They sat nicely during dinner (I think — I was at the head table), and even ate a few bites. And afterwards, they were those adorable kids who spent the entire night dancing up a storm, fueled by the well-stocked candy table. I accompanied each of them to the bathroom a couple of times, and to the cool photo booth for pictures, and beyond that, they were completely self-contained — and content. It was awesome to not have to deal with tantrums or whining or fighting, and a lot of fun to dance the “Macarena” with them at midnight. (We may have paid the price the next day, but it’s all behind us now.)

I got to chat with my aunts and uncles and family friends, and watch the smiles on the faces of my sister and her new husband, and somehow all felt right with the world. That’s the feeling I remember having at all those weddings I went to about a decade ago — a lightness of being and a renewed knowledge that romance lives, and that the bonds we create are strong and important. I was happy my girls got to play a role in this important day and to watch our family ties expand and strengthen. And, of course, I loved dancing with my husband. We’re going to have to find a way to do that more often. Unless you invite me to your wedding.

Do you prefer taking your kids to weddings, or leaving them at home?

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